Jan. 26 Flashback: It’s all about pretending

Jan. 26 Flashback: It’s all about pretending January 26, 2022

This blog is older than that Five For Fighting song that panicked about blogs.

This is from January 26, 2011, “Fantasy role-playing games“:

That bogus abortion/slavery analogy is one that I used to find compelling and reassuring. It was a frequently invoked analogy in the evangelical community. We found it inspiring, but not because we knew much of anything about the actual abolitionists, slave or free. And not because we knew anything much at all, for that matter, about abortion. The inspiration didn’t come from any perceived historical accuracy or from the logic of an argument from analogy.

What was inspiring was being told that we were on the right side of the great moral struggle of our time. That claim didn’t have to be accurate or true or logical. It wasn’t meant to appeal to accuracy or truth or logic. It’s an emotional appeal. It’s the thrill that comes from being told that you are part of a great epic struggle — that even without ever really doing much of anything you will be looked back upon by future generations as a hero.

Just assent to the proposition, cast your reliably partisan votes, attend the occasional photo-op vigil and learn to frown disapprovingly at the designated people. Do these things and you can regard yourself as being Harriet Tubman’s equal in virtue, courage and commitment.

The function of the abortion/slavery analogy, in other words, is fantasy role-playing. It’s a game of make-believe, of dress-up and pretend.

Let’s pretend that we’re heroic. Let’s pretend that we are good and brave and principled just like the abolitionists were. Let’s pretend that we are even more good and brave and principled, because we’ll pretend that if we had been around in the 19th Century that we would have been even more active, determined and effective in the struggle than Douglass or Tubman or Garrison.

Let’s pretend that our unremarkable lives of quiet desperation are actually epic quests in the service of something meaningful. Let’s pretend our lives are driven by some purpose. Let’s pretend we are engaged in the great moral struggle of our time — that we are opposing some massive and twisted evil. Let’s pretend that this struggle requires courage and commitment and let’s pretend that we possess those things. Let’s pretend that we are all that stands between this country and brutal chaos — that we and we alone are the ones keeping it all together.

Let’s pretend we are not who we actually are. Let’s pretend that our lives are not what they actually are. Let’s pretend.

Read the whole post here. The stuff quoted from Te Nehisi-Coates is still depressingly relevant.

"The people paying less than I did were either making less money that me, or ..."

"U.S. READERS OMG OMG OMGGo to special dot usps dot com to get more free ..."

"The root of the Wallace magic was a cynical, showbiz instinct for knowing exactly which ..."

"And Pauline has the hoax-virus and is being turfed out by a Green"

May 22 Flashback: The old paradigm

Browse Our Archives